Terrell Bynum brought his hater-blockers.
That’s what Washington’s wide receiver is calling them, at least. On Saturday, the 190-pound junior jogged to UW’s east practice field while rocking a pair of bulky black goggles, with frames purposefully concealing the sides of both eyes. In effectively pulverizing your peripheral vision, they force Husky wide receivers to focus on the football — to block out the haters, and everything else.
“We wear those for the most part to lock in,” Bynum explained. “Because a lot of times when we’re running slants, the ball will kind of jump on you, so it makes you get your head around real fast. When we were on the JUGS (machine) or just catching with quarterbacks, it would just make it harder. But now the (catches) come effortlessly for us.”
This summer, the hater-blocking catches came in bunches. According to Bynum, each Washington wideout successfully completed 10,000 catches while wearing the gaudy goggles — though “a lot of guys lost count after 8,000. After that we were just trying to get as many as we could.”
They caught balls from JUGS machines, quarterbacks and fellow wide receivers, an equal-opportunity hater-blocking barrage. Reaching 10,000 receptions sometimes required as many as 200 at a time.
But the goal, in a greater sense, transcends any number. It’s a quest to eradicate the inconsistency that has hounded the Husky wide receivers for the last several seasons.
“We’re just one step away,” Bynum said. “We’re always making crazy catches — over the middle making diving catches, making spectacular fricking one-handed catches. But I think for us the next step is to do that all the time.
“We always harp on consistency. Our position is crazy, because there’s a lot of factors that come into play. In order for us to be successful we’ve got to have a good blocking scheme, we’ve got to have the right play call, the quarterback has to deliver a good ball. But we can make it right. So we harp on it all the time, that we can be the guys that make a bad play good.”
Or, unfortunately, vice versa.
And make no mistake: There have been haters.
Because, since John Ross posted 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2016, UW’s wide receivers have failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards or 10 touchdowns in the four seasons since. Over that same period, FBS wideouts have hit the 1,000-yard plateau 122 times, while eclipsing 10 touchdowns 95 times. And in the Pac-12, specifically, there have been 12 1,000-yard receiving seasons and seven 10-touchdown campaigns.
Which is even more frustrating when you consider Washington’s simultaneous recruiting success. Since 2017, UW has signed nine four-star wide receivers — tied with Oregon for the Pac-12 lead. And of those nine, five eventually transferred — Ty Jones, Marquis Spiker, Austin Osborne, Trey Lowe and Puka Nacua. It’s a position that has undeniably underperformed.
And Husky head coach Jimmy Lake is not afraid to say so.
“I believe our receivers over the years have held us back from us winning those New Year’s Six games we’ve been in,” Lake said in an interview on KJR 950 AM during Pac-12 media days. “It doesn’t just fall on that position group (alone), but that position group needs to be better.”
Through six fall practices, there’s hope that potential might finally translate into production for Washington’s wideouts. The group includes four four-star recruits (Bynum, Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Jabez Tinae), two transfers with proven Power Five production (Michigan’s Giles Jackson and Texas Tech’s Ja’Lynn Polk), and two more young receivers who surged in the spring (Taj Davis and Sawyer Racanelli).
The talent is there.
As are the expectations.
“This is a group that has always needed to take that next step, and I know they’re going to take that next step this year,” Lake said at Pac-12 media days. “They’re playing with a different swagger, a different attitude and a different confidence.”
Added UW offensive coordinator John Donovan last week: “They’re still learning and they’re still growing, and their ceiling’s very high. They’re still at the early stages. Hopefully sooner than later, eventually I think they’re going to make a hell of a lot of plays around here. We look forward to seeing them.”
Of course, Bynum is the proven commodity in an unproven corps. The fifth-year junior from Long Beach, California, registered 39 catches for 498 yards and two touchdowns in his past 16 games, emerging as a dependable option for short-yardage situations as well as jet sweeps. In his four-plus seasons in Seattle, he has played in a pair of offensive systems for two different position coaches — Matt Lubick (2017-18) and Junior Adams (2019-present).
And Bynum believes he’s actually benefited from that systemic instability.
“I’ve been blessed with a lot of different coaches, and a lot of people see that as a negative,” Bynum said. “But I’ve taken something from all of them — mostly from the mental part. Being with Junior Adams for as long as I’ve been with him, he’s taught me a lot of stuff on the field and, as far as X’s and O’s, how to really attack a DB and manipulate a certain coverage. So I think I’ve gotten better in every aspect.”
Added Donovan: “He’s got a great demeanor, too. Even last year on the sidelines sometimes, I was talking to him and it was like we were sitting down and having a cup of coffee. I’m like, ‘Do you realize what the score is right now and what point in the game it is?’ He’s just having a normal conversation. He’s flatlined and pretty levelheaded for someone in a pressure situation. I think that just comes with experience and his confidence in himself. That’s a big help to the younger guys, to see how he handles all that.”
Perhaps, in reality, the Husky haters never bothered Terrell Bynum.
Regardless, Washington’s wide receivers are chasing an even better pair of hater-blockers:
Touchdowns and titles.